Pakistan v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup final, Mirpur March 7, 2014

Mathews backs Jayawardene to come good

  shares 28

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews has said it will be tough to pick a XI for the Asia Cup final against Pakistan, and predicts a hard contest, like in their league game.

"None of the games were easy for us," Mathews said on the eve of the final. "It is going to be a fresh match against Pakistan. We have to play positive cricket. We are not worried about any individuals but the Pakistan team is balanced and strong. They have good batters and bowlers so we have to play the best cricket to win against them.

"Selection is very hard, because the bowlers and batters are performing quite well. It is a good problem to have as a selector or captain. You want the whole team having competition within themselves. We will have a tough time to select the team."

So far seven Sri Lankans have played all four games in the tournament. They are Kusal Perera, Lahiru Thirimanne, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Thisara Perera, Mathews and, surprisingly, the newcomer Chaturanga de Silva.

Among them, Jayawardene has had an awful run, having scored just 36 runs in four innings, but Perera, Thirimanne, Sangakkara and Mathews have played well. De Silva has only made 72 runs but he has picked up five wickets, bowling at 4.26 runs per over.

Mathews made it clear there was no doubt over Jayawardene's place in the team. "We know the type of player he is," he said. "I believe he is a big-match player. I am very confident that he will come out to take the Pakistan attack apart."

Dinesh Chandimal has also made only 45 runs in three innings but he too is expected to play, although Ashan Priyanjan replaced him against Bangladesh without much success. Sri Lanka have to make a choice between de Silva and Suranga Lakmal, who has taken six wickets at 21.16 and has been economical at 4.88 per over.

Mathews had special praise for his most effective bowler, Lasith Malinga. "He is an exception. He is doing consistently because he is working hard. He wants to get things right when he walks into the game.

"He is working on his fitness, fielding and batting. He is our premier bowler for so many years. We want him to continue to do the same thing."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Johnny_129 on March 8, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    Jayawardane, once again, showed that he is a BIG MATCH PLAYER. Both Sanga and Jayawardane are great batsmen but Jaya is better in big match situations. Only modern batsmen better in big matches in the modern era were Tendulkar (he was the best of all) and Ponting. I would like to add Lara to that list but Lara did not play in too many finals etc.

  • on March 8, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    mahela is the good choice for big maches like finals...... he is a class player... he can score runas any track... but now he need a small support from his partner batsman for become form. if he give support he will b the man of the match

  • zavahir on March 8, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Chandimal should carry water, selection problem solved !

  • primo123 on March 8, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    Mahela is player who can come up at any time, I believe that Mahela will play a big role today , also Mahela and Sangakara's presence boosting the morale of Sri Lankan team while horrifying the Morale of opposition because of their huge experience, and can be matching winning or match saving abilities .

  • on March 8, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    Maiya should open with Kusal.... This rash idea surely will be fruit full. ......!!!

  • on March 8, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Its all about confidence isnt it? Having Mahela and Sanga in the team is a confidence booster for any capitation. And also we expect Mahela to come back strongly in this match. And yeah again, i don't mind dropping Chandimal in this match too. Because Priyanjan can at least do something with the ball even if he fails in batting which Chandimal can not do:P

  • John_Geo on March 8, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    Mahela's current confidence and form does not justify him to be in an international cricketing side (let alone in a final). Keeping him for influence and reputation is nothing short of a joke. Are you people insane suggesting something so atrocious and disgusting? This is simply madness! Not only there is no influence from aging struggling players, on the contrary it brings the morale of the side down plus it is disrespect to that person itself. He is a walking wicket right now and only people who will be happy to see him on the ground are the bowlers of the opposition. Sorry Mahela fans, he is way beyond the 'use by' date.

    Any player from the squad (or from the spectators for that matter) can replace him in his current state easily - nothing in the cricketing world has ever been this clear. Please do justice to SL. SL hasn't won a final for a long time. Let the best 11 players be in the team for the final based on their current ability to contribute - not historical records.

  • on March 8, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    I always loved Srilankan cricket team and enjoyed the matches between both. We always have great relationships with Srilanka. Being a Pakistani I would love for us to win the tournament but wouldn't feel too bad even if Srilanka wins. I wish both the teams good luck and let the best team hold the trophy.

  • on March 8, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    Remember the 2011 final in India how Mahela got his century. Look out for another great knock from a great player. He is due for a big innings today. Watch him play like a master today. Good luck Sri Lanka, Good luck Mahela.

  • vallavarayar on March 8, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    What a typically horrid form for mahela.

  • Johnny_129 on March 8, 2014, 15:36 GMT

    Jayawardane, once again, showed that he is a BIG MATCH PLAYER. Both Sanga and Jayawardane are great batsmen but Jaya is better in big match situations. Only modern batsmen better in big matches in the modern era were Tendulkar (he was the best of all) and Ponting. I would like to add Lara to that list but Lara did not play in too many finals etc.

  • on March 8, 2014, 7:45 GMT

    mahela is the good choice for big maches like finals...... he is a class player... he can score runas any track... but now he need a small support from his partner batsman for become form. if he give support he will b the man of the match

  • zavahir on March 8, 2014, 7:10 GMT

    Chandimal should carry water, selection problem solved !

  • primo123 on March 8, 2014, 6:11 GMT

    Mahela is player who can come up at any time, I believe that Mahela will play a big role today , also Mahela and Sangakara's presence boosting the morale of Sri Lankan team while horrifying the Morale of opposition because of their huge experience, and can be matching winning or match saving abilities .

  • on March 8, 2014, 5:54 GMT

    Maiya should open with Kusal.... This rash idea surely will be fruit full. ......!!!

  • on March 8, 2014, 5:03 GMT

    Its all about confidence isnt it? Having Mahela and Sanga in the team is a confidence booster for any capitation. And also we expect Mahela to come back strongly in this match. And yeah again, i don't mind dropping Chandimal in this match too. Because Priyanjan can at least do something with the ball even if he fails in batting which Chandimal can not do:P

  • John_Geo on March 8, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    Mahela's current confidence and form does not justify him to be in an international cricketing side (let alone in a final). Keeping him for influence and reputation is nothing short of a joke. Are you people insane suggesting something so atrocious and disgusting? This is simply madness! Not only there is no influence from aging struggling players, on the contrary it brings the morale of the side down plus it is disrespect to that person itself. He is a walking wicket right now and only people who will be happy to see him on the ground are the bowlers of the opposition. Sorry Mahela fans, he is way beyond the 'use by' date.

    Any player from the squad (or from the spectators for that matter) can replace him in his current state easily - nothing in the cricketing world has ever been this clear. Please do justice to SL. SL hasn't won a final for a long time. Let the best 11 players be in the team for the final based on their current ability to contribute - not historical records.

  • on March 8, 2014, 3:35 GMT

    I always loved Srilankan cricket team and enjoyed the matches between both. We always have great relationships with Srilanka. Being a Pakistani I would love for us to win the tournament but wouldn't feel too bad even if Srilanka wins. I wish both the teams good luck and let the best team hold the trophy.

  • on March 8, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    Remember the 2011 final in India how Mahela got his century. Look out for another great knock from a great player. He is due for a big innings today. Watch him play like a master today. Good luck Sri Lanka, Good luck Mahela.

  • vallavarayar on March 8, 2014, 3:26 GMT

    What a typically horrid form for mahela.

  • on March 8, 2014, 3:07 GMT

    When Herath, kulasekara & Dilshan returns, the selectors might need to think twice before slotting them directly into the playing 11 like they have in the past.

    Ajantha & senanayake are cementing their places and Chaturanga de silva being a Left arm spinner gives SL the balance they need. Herath a left arm spinner too would find it hard returning.

    Kusal Perera & Thirimanne look pretty stable at the top, Kusal is the more attacking & thiri the more stabled. Dilshan felt uncomfortable in his role when opening with kusal as he too went after the BD bowlers and threw his wicket but no doubt He is a match winner.

    SL playing in the subcontinent play two front-line spinners. Thisara & Malinga being the Pace men, Lakmal has been impressive too so kulasekara would find it Hard.

    A stronger bench strength is what's needed these days.

  • on March 8, 2014, 2:47 GMT

    Mahela is a big-match player.No doubt about that! Lets win this guys! bring the cup home! We all are waiting.. Go SL Go!!!

  • SameeraSL on March 8, 2014, 2:46 GMT

    Mahela Should be open with Kusal...Wish you all the best SL..!!!

  • samSL on March 8, 2014, 2:42 GMT

    The simplest solution is just sack him for good. this old horse is nothing more than a liability at the moment. Lots of players set examples by themselves by retiring when they feel they are not good enough to play. the most recent example is by Grame Smith. Please retire for the gods sake.

  • on March 8, 2014, 2:29 GMT

    if mahela opens the batting with perera sl will win the match

  • on March 8, 2014, 1:24 GMT

    Jaya had played more than 400 matches in ODI and has a mediocre average of 33. That says something about his ability as an ODI batsman. This is in complete contrast to his test average. If he scores, it will be good for SL, but at the moment he is struggling and as the average suggest he is not a great ODI player.

  • on March 8, 2014, 0:49 GMT

    no problem with giving jayawardana his place..but why chindimal gives an opportunity lol ... its enough he is a poor player..why selectors still trust him..

  • YsaKaru on March 8, 2014, 0:27 GMT

    my XI: 1.kusal 2.mahela 3.sanga(wk) 4.chandi 5.thirimanna 6.angelo(c) 7.chathuranga 8.thisara 9.sachithra 10.mendis 11.malinga angi needs to bowl atleast 6-7 overs.chathuranga in playing XI bcoz pak top order full in right handers.GOOD LUCK LANKANS!!!!!!

  • on March 7, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    SL look stronger and deserve to win.

  • Agnar on March 7, 2014, 22:08 GMT

    This should be the last chance for Mahela and Chandimal.

  • on March 7, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    I would say, Mahela should bat at #3, considering Chandima's poor form Priyanjan will be handy with his off spin and his batting, which can also mean Suranga Lakmal can play to give assistance to Malinga (Senanayake might be opted out) Chathuranga de silva should play as he is a slow left armer and Pakistan has a lot of right handers

    My team

    Kusal Perera Lahiru Thirimanne Mahela Jayawardena Kumar Sangakkara Ashan Priyanjan Angelo Matthews Chaturanga De silva Thisara Perera Ajantha Mendis Lasith Malinga Suranga Lakmal

  • on March 7, 2014, 20:13 GMT

    The outcome of the match depends on 4 players: AJMAL, MISBAH, MALINGA & SANGA.

  • on March 7, 2014, 18:48 GMT

    best of luck both teams. but mahela ton will help to win srilanka. go mahela iya

  • i_amVIVA on March 7, 2014, 18:38 GMT

    Getting runs or not, Mahela being in the team is a big plus for SL in order to influence the youngesters to amp up to perform in the game for team SL. I support his inclusion in this crucial game of AsiaCipFinal.

  • on March 7, 2014, 18:09 GMT

    Indeed Mahela is a big match player. He has proved that in so many occasions through out his career. Still I believe the team needs him to bat at No. 4. My team for tomorrow's final is Kushal, Lahiru, Sanga, Mahela, Angelo, Chathuranga, Thisara, Sachithra, Ajantha, Lakmal, Lasith. I would drop Chandimal from the playing 11 as he looks out of form.

  • lovesanga on March 7, 2014, 18:02 GMT

    look for a big partnership between mahela & sanga

  • on March 7, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    The key to srilanka success is to the youngers players a oppounity to play

  • jerryman on March 7, 2014, 17:32 GMT

    Mahela is due a big innings . Will be great to see it in this game. Depending on Mahelas choice , he may want to open the innings . He does better when he opens . Thirimanne can be a floater from # 4-7 depending on the situation . Good luck to both sides .. Handling the pressure better in key moments will be difference between a victory and a defeat

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  • jerryman on March 7, 2014, 17:32 GMT

    Mahela is due a big innings . Will be great to see it in this game. Depending on Mahelas choice , he may want to open the innings . He does better when he opens . Thirimanne can be a floater from # 4-7 depending on the situation . Good luck to both sides .. Handling the pressure better in key moments will be difference between a victory and a defeat

  • on March 7, 2014, 17:47 GMT

    The key to srilanka success is to the youngers players a oppounity to play

  • lovesanga on March 7, 2014, 18:02 GMT

    look for a big partnership between mahela & sanga

  • on March 7, 2014, 18:09 GMT

    Indeed Mahela is a big match player. He has proved that in so many occasions through out his career. Still I believe the team needs him to bat at No. 4. My team for tomorrow's final is Kushal, Lahiru, Sanga, Mahela, Angelo, Chathuranga, Thisara, Sachithra, Ajantha, Lakmal, Lasith. I would drop Chandimal from the playing 11 as he looks out of form.

  • i_amVIVA on March 7, 2014, 18:38 GMT

    Getting runs or not, Mahela being in the team is a big plus for SL in order to influence the youngesters to amp up to perform in the game for team SL. I support his inclusion in this crucial game of AsiaCipFinal.

  • on March 7, 2014, 18:48 GMT

    best of luck both teams. but mahela ton will help to win srilanka. go mahela iya

  • on March 7, 2014, 20:13 GMT

    The outcome of the match depends on 4 players: AJMAL, MISBAH, MALINGA & SANGA.

  • on March 7, 2014, 20:23 GMT

    I would say, Mahela should bat at #3, considering Chandima's poor form Priyanjan will be handy with his off spin and his batting, which can also mean Suranga Lakmal can play to give assistance to Malinga (Senanayake might be opted out) Chathuranga de silva should play as he is a slow left armer and Pakistan has a lot of right handers

    My team

    Kusal Perera Lahiru Thirimanne Mahela Jayawardena Kumar Sangakkara Ashan Priyanjan Angelo Matthews Chaturanga De silva Thisara Perera Ajantha Mendis Lasith Malinga Suranga Lakmal

  • Agnar on March 7, 2014, 22:08 GMT

    This should be the last chance for Mahela and Chandimal.

  • on March 7, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    SL look stronger and deserve to win.